I have experienced the cuisine creativity and presentation of Chefs Rikku O’Donnchü and Warwick King three times at Gåte when they opened at Quoin Rock wine estate outside Stellenbosch a year ago, and three times since they established their own SŸN Group since leaving Gåte, first as a SŸN Pop-up, and then as their brand new Exhibit A, in the past year, In this period I have seen the growth in this creative chef team, challenging itself continuously to do things differently and to break their own boundaries. Continue reading →
Cape Town has just upped its food game, with the opening of the new artisinal Unframed Ice Cream Parlour on Kloof Street. The taste of the twelve flavours is sensational, and the unique flavour range is impressive!
I was invited by Marina Nestel of The Little Black Book to attend the official opening of Crumbs & Cream on Regent Road in Sea Point this evening, a unique outlet selling ice cream sandwiches which began trading a week ago. Continue reading →
Yesterday the first Oranjezicht City Farm market of 2015 was held on the grounds of the official residence Leeuwenhof of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, dubbed as ‘Villa Zille’. It was the first time that I attended the market since its move to the premier’s property six weeks ago, and I was impressed with the location, the parking offered, and the use of the property by those who attended. The highlight was seeing Premier Zille mingling with the crowd, herself shopping at the market!
The move to Leeuwenhof resulted from a suggestion via Twitter, when it was announced by the Oranjezicht City Farm that they would have to close down the market adjacent to the Farm, given the bureaucratic requirements of the City of Cape Town and Heritage Western Cape, Continue reading →
We used Google Analytics to identify the top ten blogposts on our WhaleTales Blog in 2013. The most read blogposts related to restaurants, MasterChef SA Season 2, and Social Media drama. The top 10 most read blogposts in 2013 were the following:
1. Autumn and Winter Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant Specials 2013 tops the list of most read, achieving almost three times as many unique readers compared to the other top 10 blogposts. In winter restaurant specials are extremely important to Capetonians, as their wallets and purses are more bare.
2. The year started off with a Social Media explosion, when ‘Mother Superior’ Blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs attacked us on Twitter, protecting her ‘chicks’ Michael copy-and-paste Oliver, mommy Tweeter and then occasional CEO of Cape Town Tourism Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, former political poor-spelling-grammar ‘PR’ and Communications Consultant Skye Grove at Cape Town Tourism, and Eat Out editor Abigail I-love-Giorgio-and-Luke Donnelly. We retaliated with a blogpost (‘New Year kicks off with Twitter bullying, bashing, and blackmail’) which attracted so much attention that Hobbs must have regretted her Tweet, as all ‘sins’ of the four ‘chicks’ were laid bare! Continue reading →
On 28 September 2008 we posted the first blogpost on this WhaleTales blog, not knowing where this journey would be taking us. Five years and close to 2000 blogposts later, we look back as well as forward.
I had set myself a goal of blogging daily, and while I question my wisdom at times, it has kept the rhythm going, and forced me to find material to blog about. My biggest fear is that I will run out of things to blog about one day!
The statistics from Google Analytics help in casting an eye back: in the five year period we have achieved 1,4 million pageviews, with 759452 unique readers. We were a Finalist for the SA Blog Awards’ The Most Controversial Blog in 2010, and try to stay true to this accolade. We have reached the 5th position on the amatomu.com Popular South African Blogs list. We have been included in the 100 Great SA Travel Twitter Feeds.
Many of the most popular blogposts Continue reading →
Before the new working year kicks in tomorrow, when most return to work, we have taken stock of our blog. Last year we had just over 401000 unique pageviews, and the winter Restaurant Specials blogpost was by far the most popular. Most traffic came via Google searches, and interestingly Facebook generated three times the volume of traffic to the blog compared to Twitter. More than 2000 subscribers receive the latest blogpost daily on RSS feed subscription.
We cannot always predict what drives traffic to the blog. The three best read Blog days, with over 2800 unique pageviews each, were 11 January (Cruise liners mean ‘The World’ to the V&A Waterfront: Cape cruise crisis), 23 April (Chef Bruce Robertson returns to Cape Town, plain sailing at The Boat House), and 9 November (Spier Sweet Service and City of Cape Town Sour Service Awards). Interesting is that the blogpost we wrote on 18 April in 2011 about the unfortunate passing of the President of Ferrero Rocher in Cape Town still achieves daily readership, and was the second best read blogpost last year. The top ten Continue reading →
On Sunday La Residence impressed with the fundraising lunch it hosted to raise monies for the Stuart McFarlane Foundation, to assist in finding a cure for Motor Neuron Disease, a disease which Stuart McFarlane, previous GM of La Residence, suffers from (as does Joost van der Westhuizen), and for which there is no cure currently.
La Residence GM Edward Morton and events manager Chantell Viljoen created the Stuart McFarlane Foundation, and sent out a mailer to encourage support for the Foundation, by attending a lunch in honour of Stuart, for which we paid R500 a head. The grand entrance room, which is a lounge and dining room all in one, looked magnificent, with one long table set for 45 persons. I was lucky to sit next to Jo Sinfield, the co-owner of Deluxe Coffeeworks in Franschhoek and who has hospitality interests too, and opposite Ali Macfarlane from Inspirational Places, and her fiancé Carl. Many guests present were from the hospitality industry, having worked with Stuart at La Residence, its sister property Birkenhead House in Hermanus, Singita, and at Ellerman House. Fireplaces were lit and made the room cosy, on a grey winter’s day. Guest of honour, Kfm’s Elana Afrika, was her bubbly self, and was amazing in networking around the table, and remembering the names of almost all the guests present. She reminded us that ‘giving is a must’, and mentioned her radio station’s ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ campaign it runs regularly, making one realise that there are others with bigger problems than those that we have.
A few speeches were made, donations were auctioned to raise further funds, and a good time was had by all, the saxophonist adding a high note to the event. Wines were from the Felicité range from Newton Johnson in Hermanus, at which wine estate Stuart works now, and we were offered a choice of Chardonnay 2011 and Pinot Noir 2011, the latter being an excellent example of one of the wine varieties that the Hemel en Aarde valley is famous for.
Chef Leonard Marais went to great lengths to serve a feast, canapés having been served with the Rosé sparkling wine on arrival. On sitting down, we were served a free-range chicken, pistachio nut and asparagus terrine, served with a fine salad, spiced apple chutney, as well as melba toast, and a basket of home-baked breads and rolls. This was followed by a Corn Chowder, a colourful warm soup for a cold day.
For the main course we were served a generous portion of oven-roasted leg of lamb, garlic and herb potato gratin, cumin glazed young carrots, fine beans, beetroot sprouts, and a rosemary jus. For dessert we had a baked pear pudding, which was served with a delicious home-made Fererro Rocher ice cream.
La Residence, and The Royal Portfolio owners Phil and Liz Biden, impressed with their generosity in hosting the lunch and donating some of the prizes for the auction. The elite boutique hotel, at which Elton John stays when he performs in Cape Town, is the best of its kind in Franschhoek, and showed its friendliness and demonstrated its heart for others in organising the lunch and in creating the Foundation for their ex-colleague Stuart McFarlane. Everyone attending not only enjoyed Chef Leonard’s excellent lunch but also felt good about doing good for someone else.
La Residence, Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek. Tel ()21) 876-4100 www.laresidence.co.za Twitter: @LaResidence Lunch and dinner on request and subject to availability for outside guests.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Our Blog is two and half years old, and we have been dedicated to keeping up our initial goal of writing a blog post a day, with only a few exceptions. Blog writing is scary initially, as one does not know if anyone, and who, is reading the blog, until one reads comments from readers, if they reveal their real names.
Out of interest, we checked the more than 400000 unique pageviews of our blogposts for the past twelve months via Google Analytics, widely regarded as the most reliable benchmark of readership. Our Blogposts with the Winter, as well as the Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials, have attracted strong interest, with the remaining Top 10 most read blogposts being a mixed bag, containing four restaurant reviews, indicating that blog readers love reading about restaurants. We have just launched the Winter 2011 Restaurant Specials list.
The Whale Cottage Blog Top 10 blog post list in the past twelve months is the following:
1. Winter Restaurant Specials for winter 2010
3. Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials : 2010/2011
4. Prince Albert’s attendance at Charlene Wittstock’s birthday party in Fresnaye in January 2009 – the recent engagement and the forthcoming marriage of the couple keeps pulling traffic to the blog
5. Restaurant Review of Tokara DeliCATessen (a surprise, but probably due to potential search confusion between the Deli at Tokara, and the Tokara Restaurant. Ranked third on Google search for this deli).
6. Restaurant Review: Sotano by Caveau – this blogpost caused a stir, mainly due to the rude response it received on Twitter from one of the Caveau owners
7. Presentation by Disney before World Cup to frontline hospitality and tourism staff, to enhance service levels – it was a ‘Mickey Mouse’ presentation, of little value, and cost the taxpayer a fortune!
8. The Stellenbosch Restaurant Route – the popularity of this blogpost, listing the significant restaurants in Stellenbosch, is rewarding, as the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route is something I created on this blog, to honour Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown.
9. Restaurant Review: Pierneef à La Motte – this is one of my favourite reviews, and was a pleasure to write from the generous background information I received from Hein Koegelenberg, and in reaction to the amazing food that I have enjoyed there. Experiencing it for the first time gave me goose bumps, knowing that this will become an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant for 2011.
10. Restaurant Review: Gaaitjie Restaurant in Paternoster – our review is regularly read, ranked first on Google for this restaurant.
In the past month the Top 10 most read Blogposts were as follows:
1. President of Ferrero Rocher dies in cycling accident in Cape Town – this is not normally a story we would write, but we wanted to correct early headlines that stated that Pietro Ferrero was ‘killed in SA accident’, implying yet another crime statistic, which was completely incorrect.
2. The Consumer Protection Act, of vital importance to every South African business dealing with the consumer
3. Departure of Chef David Higgs from Rust en Vrede – probably due to the lack of a statement from Higgs as to why he is leaving and where he is going, this blogpost still attracts regular readership
4. Cape Town and Winelands Spring and Summer Restaurant Specials for summer 2010/2011
5. Cape Town to become a 24-hour world class city, detailing plans for various development hubs in Cape Town, including the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre
6. Restaurant Review: Casparus Restaurant in Stellenbosch (right), an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant prediction for 2012
7. Restaurant Review: Dear Me in Shortmarket Street
8. Tasting Room best restaurant in Africa/Middle East, reflecting the results of the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants
9. Restaurant Review: Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Award prediction for 2012
10. Hotels in Cape Town offer wide range of winter rates, but discriminate against foreigners.
Google Analytics also measures clicks on tags, and the top tags in the past month, which led Google searches to the Whale Cottage Blog, were ‘Charlene Wittstock’ (very high source of traffic), ‘Prince William’, ‘Table Mountain’, ‘Marthinus van Schalkwyk’, ‘El Bulli’, ‘Cape of Good Hope’, ‘Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company; ‘petrol price’, ‘SA Tourism’, and ‘Hemelhuijs Restaurant’.
We welcome your feedback about our blog, and the stories you would like to read more about. Thank you to all our readers for your readership, support, suggestions, and comments.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Pietro Ferrero, 47 year old head of Italian company Ferrero SpA, died near Oudekraal on the scenic coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno in Cape Town this afternoon, from an heart attack he suffered whilst cycling, the Camps Bay police station has confirmed.
Ferrero and his Ferrero Rocher colleagues were in Cape Town to attend a conference, which was held in different venues around Cape Town, including the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, where they met for the conference yesterday.
Mr Ferrero was the Chairman and President of Ferrero SpA, a private company manufacturing Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Nutella, Kinder and Tic-Tac. The company, founded by Ferrero’s grandfather with the same name, has 18 factories around the world, with 21000 employees.
It is sad that our beautiful city Cape Town should be associated with the death of this prominent business leader, especially as reports, even from our local Mail & Guardian, state that he was “killed in SA accident”, over-dramatising the sad event.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage